Kaepernick, kneeling, and balancing civil rights and respect for the flag a complicated task

May 20, 2019

The idea of kneeling for the National Anthem is a sensitive topic, and some people understand while other people do not.

Point Counterpoint: Kaepernick

Some of the most critical moments in history occurred in 2016: a year in which gun violence and brutality was prominent worldwide – especially in America.

In that year, one thousand ninety-one African American lives were taken from them by the hands of corrupt police officers that assumed the worst and shot the victims to death.

Needless to say, thousands of protests were organized nationwide to combat this issue and lower these shameful statistics.

One football player in started a revolution in attempts to change the brutality that happens every day.

Colin Kaepernick, a former professional football player for the NFL, has used his athletic title to convey his stance against  unconstitutional police brutality towards innocent African American people.

Prior to kickoff of a pre-season game in 2016, Kaepernick decided to peacefully protest against this treatment by sitting during the National Anthem.

When being a professional athlete, it is an unspoken rule that you must remain politically impartial to the public eye to avoid backlash from fans, your team, and the league itself. Although Kaepernick’s form of protest is protected by the law, the timeliness of when he chose to protest was not ideal. This protest was executed in order to create peace; however, protesting in such a controversial way seemed to have the opposite effect and created more chaos and division amongst American citizens regardless of their background.

Simply put, there are two main groups: those who agree with Kaepernick’s form of protest, and those who disagree with what he did.

What Kaepernick did was not necessarily wrong; however, this protest could have been done differently and more efficiently to prevent some of the arguments occurring today.

Most people can agree that sports have always been the glue that unifies people of all different backgrounds and beliefs. However, Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the National Anthem segregated the entire country and distracted  those in the league and fans of the game from what they were initially focusing on: football.

Around this time as well, the Orlando nightclub shooting, which killed forty-nine people and wounded fifty-three, was still fresh in the news. Although people nationwide fought for a safer America after this, Kaepernick chose to center his protest on police brutality and not gun control and uncivil people as a whole. Even earlier in the year, there were other instances where people lost their lives to gun violence.

Failure to address and truly alter this issue with guns was likely one of the factors contributing to the two hundred and sixty-two mass shootings this year in America alone.

In the end, Kaepernick had the right intentions; however, the way he executed them and the controversy that arose because of his means of protest could have been easily avoided if he simply protested in a different way.

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Point/Counterpoint: Kneeling for National Anthem

Imagine standing in your driveway, being forcefully interrogated by armed officers. You reach for your cell phone, unclear of the situation and desperately attempting to reach out to someone for help. The police feel threatened and unaware that you are unarmed, they decide to shoot; five times to be exact.

Days later, they drop your charges for attempted murder, due to a miscommunicated assumption between the officers and their department.

Your life was over before you even got the chance to defend it.

Seems unfair? This is what unarmed, 23-year-old Keith Childress encountered on December 31, 2015, as well as the millions of black citizens that deal with racial injustice throughout their community almost every day.

Kneeling for the National Anthem is an outlet for social media stars, actors, celebrities, civilians, or more commonly, professional athletes, to display their protest of police brutality and racial injustice to the public.

Recently, Nike created an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers quarterback, as their spokesman. This initiated some intense backlash against the company, with non-supporters destroying their Nike apparel in consumer protest.

However, the remaining followers of Nike defended Kaepernick and believed he transformed his personal views on police violence and inequality in the black community into a worldwide movement.

By kneeling during the National Anthem, Kaepernick used his celebrity status to draw attention towards his cause, which steadily began a communal protest throughout America. Because he is a professional athlete, he has a broad platform of viewers and fans to display his civil rebellion upon.

“Standing up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color should not be encouraged,” Kaepernick stated in a NFL Media interview.

Kneeling is a civil protest that doesn’t affect the community in a forceful or dominant manner; it simply kickstarts conversation amongst the nation and raises awareness for an important issue.

“I truly respect our players wanting to speak out and change their cause or rebellion. We don’t live in a perfect society. We want them to use that voice,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodwell said in an interview with USA Today.

Not standing for the National Anthem is a legal form of protest, which is a First Amendment right. Instead of causing riots or other unjust forms of chaotic rebellion, kneeling is a peaceful way of displaying your movement or cause.

Speaking out freely on personal beliefs is supported by the First Amendment, which prevents Congress from making any law that prohibits freedom of speech or the right to peacefully assemble in protest.

“People have the right to take a knee. This movement is so sensitive, we have to be respectable of their rights,” principal Dan Serrano said.

Kaepernick has created a national movement by kneeling in civil objection towards the racial injustice and police brutality in America. He not only displays his beliefs in a composed manner, but he is also seen as a representative for everyone who supports his cause.

Kneeling for the National Anthem is much more than just an attention grabbing protest; it helps raise awareness and builds a safer community for those affected by police brutality and racial inequality.

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